Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Simplifying Our Lives Part 1--repair

I have been thinking alot lately about simplifying my life. I read a blog called Frugal Granola and often will follow her blog to other blogs about people who are living a simple life. I am fascinated by it but also feel overwhelmed by it. I love the idea but don't foresee John and I selling our house, completely changing our lives and becoming different people. However, I have been thinking about how we can simplify our lives within the confines of who we are and what our goals are for our life and our family.

Today's thought centers around fixing things. I feel it is a lost art. We still think of fixing a few things, we fix our cars when they have minor issues rather than replacing them and we fix the homes we live in when they have things wrong but we just might buy a new car if we need a new transmission or completely remodel the kitchen when the counter tops get a scratch on them. We definitely don't put patches on our clothes, darn socks, re-wire a broken lamp or have handy the number for a repair man anymore. We don't fix things, we replace them. Once upon a time our grandparents fixed things. They bought something and expected to use it forever.

John was chatting with his dad recently who was telling him he found a great welder for aluminum if we ever needed one. Apparently, his office chair broke and he needed the base re-welded. Hello? The chair is old, ancient. Get a new chair, it is obviously time. Yet, for I am sure a fraction of the cost, he fixed the chair he already had which was working perfectly fine. Why don't we do that anymore?

Well John and I are starting. A couple weeks ago I did something to our blender. I think the problem is I didn't connect the blender on to the motor properly and I wrecked the thing on the motor part that spins (sorry to be so technical here). Well my first thought is, great, we need a new blender. It is a nice blender and since they make even nicer ones now we probably would be shelling out about $200 for a new blender. But I thought, maybe we can fix it. I went online and immediately found the part for $8, $12 with shipping. I bet when it comes I will even be able to figure out how to put it in myself. :) Then on Saturday we came home from a family outing, John went to open the storm door and the doorknob came off in his hands. Sort of like it does in tv shows at some funny moment. Of course when all your money is going to Africa a broken doorknob doesn't seem quite as funny. Actually we really had been wanting to replace both the knob and the door since we moved in. So I was a little excited and could tell John was too. Finally an excuse to spend money on this part of our home. Yet I found myself grudgingly asking if he could fix it and he reluctantly admitted he could. So we will continue on with a perfectly functional door and door knob without needlessly spending a fortune to get ourselves a new, trendier but totally unnecessary door and knob. (note the repair has not actually happened yet.)

I can't wait to see what we will fix next. The Gazebo? The siding? The computers? The loose buttons on our clothes? What will you fix?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It's like I planned this

You know how I wouldn't let Isabelle watch TV for a week this fall? It has been driving me crazy how much I let her watch tv, how incapable she seems to be about entertaining herself and how clueless I am about what to do about it. My main plan when we were not watching last fall was to come up with alternative things she could do. I sort of settled on coloring/painting and playdough. She needs me to set them up but they seem to entertain her for quite a while. So whenever I started to feel she was watching too much tv I would suggest one of these and she usually happily did them for a while.

Well all the sudden this week I am noticing that she is asking for those things over tv. In fact I was trying to get her to watch tv the other day so I could do some stuff and she didn't want to! Somehow we have turned a corner. She has learned to play on her own and enjoy her toys and really, really, really is obsessed with the new paints I bought her for her birthday.

This is what I remember from parenting Jake, you knock yourself out over a subject feeling like you are really just banging your head against the wall and then suddenly you look up and they have matured in the direction you were pointing them. It is funny how these lessons tend to stack up. I just commented on my SIL's weight loss blog this week about how the seemingly pointless one pound at a time all adds up and she will soon be at her goal. I told her it was an object lesson for parenting and a few days later here I am experiencing that exact lesson in my own life. It is these little triumphs that keep me going towards the bigger goal of raising godly children who will go out into the world and serve Him in whatever they do with their lives.

Up next: I tackle some 4 year old bible memory...Or teach her to clean her room...eat vegetables...stop whining...be patient...

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook

FOR TODAY March 23, 2009

From the Simple Woman's Daybook.

Outside my window...It is raining.

I am thinking...About the Sale I am organizing for the church.

I am thankful for...My hard working husband.

From the learning rooms...Isabelle is obsessed with painting and mixing colors.

From the kitchen...I am trying to use food on hand this week. We are having pasta for dinner.

I am wearing...jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt.

I am creating...several projects in my head but nothing started yet. Curtains mostly.

I am going...to work 4 mornings this week.

I am reading...Home Comforts. Read a friends copy but didn't want to shell out full price for it, I finally found it at the used book store. I love it the second time around.

I am hoping...I can run tomorrow morning again without getting rained on.

I am hearing...Buses drive by the house.

Around the house...the laundry is almost done, Isabelle is painting.

One of my favorite things...Running in the morning to clear my head and start the day.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Coffee with a friend on Thursday to catch up on life.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...Jake fell asleep watching a video with Isabelle.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Year of Mission

I spent 8 days traveling across the country, well up and down the country, this past week to visit my Georgia sister. It was a good trip, 4 days (2 down, 2 back) in the car with mom and Isabelle went quickly and smoothly. I had fun reconnecting with my nieces, experiencing the chaos that happens in a house with 4 girls, celebrating at an orange 4 year old birthday party, helping my sister declutter her bedroom closet for the first time since they moved in, getting in a brief shopping time where I found some new shoes, and all the other fun things we did.

This trip, more so than some, really felt like a break from my regular life. Not so much in the activities we did but just in my not having to go to work, clean, do laundry, etc. I had time to just enjoy the moments and to think about my life and listen to what God was showing me at this time in my life. I was particularly struck by a sense of sharing. Because of sick kids and volunteer schedules I ended up going to church alone while I was there. It felt great to have that moment alone to worship God and there was a great sermon just for me about our mission in life. A couple profound thoughts from my notes, "When you think of God's mission for your life you don't start with you, you start with God." Hmm...interesting thought, what does God want me to do not what do I want to do. Then once we get into our actual mission here is a very simple idea, "What you have heard, share." Oh, so I don't have to know all the answers I just tell people what I know. Interesting. This also sort of goes with something Michele is learning from Beth Moore, "Are you planting the seed or eating it?" What am I doing with what God is giving me?

So as I have probably mentioned before I am trying to see my job, which I have to finance the Africa trip, as a ministry. And while I am doing no preaching at my work I am trying to live a godly life and be a positive influence to those I work with. I have had some small opportunities to simply show love and give encouragement to my co-workers and have appreciated the experience. While I have done nothing exceptional, just making the effort to step into others lives in this way has seemed like a big deal to me.

This past week as I was away from my normal responsibilities and listening to the sermon alone I felt strongly that God was placing on my heart a next step, to start a bible study in my neighborhood. Not the kind where you call all the neighbors you know are already Christians but the kind where you invite everyone you have met whether you know their faith or not to come and learn about the life of Christ for 6 weeks. YIKES! Luckily God also told me who would share with me. You know "what you have heard, share". So Molly is going to tell me what to do and say and I am going to do it and tell them. Sounds pretty simple. I already have one neighbor who has talked to me about starting a neighborhood study so I called her and we are going to work together and see what God does as we simply open ourselves up to be used by Him.

And don't you think it is interesting that God is speaking to me about my mission/ministry as I am preparing for my Africa trip. Or do you think he is always speaking to me about these things but I just have a heightened awareness because of the trip? Something else to contemplate. This is turning into more than the Year of Africa. This is becoming the Year of Mission as John and I also spent an evening talking about how we can better open our lives and home up to others in need. No conclusion to that one yet. What else will God do in our lives this year?

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Birthday in Georgia

It has been a cold winter but I have made it to Georgia for a little warm up before returning to the frozen tundra. Well that was the plan anyway. The day before we left it was 80 degrees in Atlanta but they knew we were coming so bring on the cold weather. It was actually snowing large flakes as we drove into Nashville on the way down. We huddled at a rest stop in the entry building with our picnic cooler downing a quick lunch instead of wandering the area stretching our legs. It is certainly warmer than MN but not exactly the warm up I was hoping for. Today was probably in the 60's but with a cool breeze and no sun. It is supposed to be in the 50's the rest of the time and rain is predicted for every day. However, the weather was only a side note to the big event we came for. Isabelle's cousin, Grace, was born 9 days after her and Grandma, Isabelle and I have cruised into town to celebrate her 4th birthday.

Grace loves the color Orange so it was an Orange fiesta party. Grace is having a great time playing and partying with her "best friend" Isabelle. Isabelle is having fun with all her cousins but definately isn't used to the constant activity they have here. The party was great. My sister is the master party planner and it was fun to be part of even one of her "simple" parties. I learn alot from her parties and am getting better at throwing my own. She is doing a wonderful post about Grace and Isabelle which I highly recommend you go check out. Here are a couple fun pictures from the party today:

Here they are with the cake. Before this we had made a craft, played a relay candy game, hit a pinata and danced with silly string and a room full of orange balloons.

The sweet birthday girl

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Isabelle's 4th Birthday

Yesterday was Isabelle's 4th birthday. I was thinking last night that 4 years ago Isabelle still wasn't mine. I wasn't in a hospital 4 years ago having my labor induced, having contractions, getting an epidural, pushing out a precious 7 pound 15 ounce little girl. My labor experience was entirely different. I went to bed that night in my own bed as usual and slept the usual 8 hours, same with the night after that. It wasn't until Isabelle's 3rd night that my sleep was interrupted and it was quite some time before I slept 8 hours again.

The night she was born I was sitting in the living room at my parents house with my husband and son, parents, brother and sister-in-law and their kids. We were making small talk about the new townhouse my parents bought and the impending move from the home they had been living in for 25 years. I thought about the fact that Isabelle would never know my childhood home. And as we were chatting my cell phone was sitting on the coffee table in front of us and we were all staring at it waiting for it to ring, waiting for our social worker to call and tell us our precious daughter had been born. When the phone finally rang she only told us that Isabelle was born and doing well but that Sam, the birth father, wanted to tell us the details. We quickly called him to hear all about the birth and everything that had gone on. He made a joke about the fact that she was indeed a girl and we wouldn't have to make a panic trip to the paint store to cover up the pink room we had created. We asked him if he would take a picture with his phone so we could see her that night and he said there were lots of cameras and they would send us lots of pictures. We raced home to see many precious pictures of our little girl.

She was a blob. A little face poking out of a blanket. The pictures are precious to me today but that night as I looked at the red blob of a child that I did not know and did not yet love I cried. I wanted to have that instant love I had with Jake at the sight of the picture and I didn't. And even though I knew I would love her, the emotions of the experience overtook me and I cried the night my daughter was born.

The next day was another day to watch the phone. 4 years ago today we were at Jake's school for History Day and waiting to find out if we could go see her in the hospital. Finally that night we were able to go meet our little girl in person, to hold her and touch her, feed her and hear her voice. She was and is a miracle. Sam and Lauren were so excited to introduce her to us. We were so amazed by their strength and maturity in the situation at such a young age. The had complete confidence in the decision they had made. Isabelle was adorable, amazing and beautiful, and my love affair with her began.

Finally on March 5th, 4 years ago, we went to the hospital again to bring home our little girl. That day Sam and Lauren were both red faced, they had spent the morning saying good bye to their daughter so that we could say hello to our daughter. We shared an Entrustment Ceremony together. We promised to raise her and love her and be godly parents to love, protect, support and nurture her. We all vowed to work together to develop a relationship that would give Isabelle a sense of identity and to know that she is loved by all her parents. Then we gave them a hug, loaded Isabelle in her car seat and left the hospital. We had about an hour or so after we got home before we were descended upon by family who were as excited as we were to at long last be bringing home the child we had desired for so many years.

And now she is 4 YEARS OLD! It has been an amazing journey. We love her with every part of our being. I am not a big baby person, we wanted another child but I was nervous about doing all the baby stuff again, and it was hard. I kept saying, "We just have to get to 4 and then it will be fine." I knew it would go fast but it has just flown by. And true to my word I am enjoying her so much as we enter 4. The tantrums are almost over and the fun learning stage of her life has begun. I am enjoying my time with her and thinking through how I can continue to nurture her and guide her to become the godly woman I have been praying for her to become as she grows.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I haven't done not me Monday in a while so here are a few things I did not do in the past few weeks.

I did not completely blow up at my son after he told me he didn't think he turned in all 4 of the required parts of a recent assignment even though I had repeatedly reminded him to complete the assignment. I did not make him cancel a party he was having here that weekend. He did not think I was being totally unreasonable. I did not feel proud of myself for standing firm and forcing him to realize the priority homework needs to be in his life. A week later when his teacher updated the online report card I did not discover that he in fact DID turn in all 4 parts of the assignment. I did not feel terrible that I made him cancel the party even if it was his fault for not remembering that he did the whole assignment. I did not feel I needed to apologize to him. But really who forgets they did the whole assignment????

I did not TODAY come out to my car after work to discover a flat tire on my car. I did not flag down my girlfriend to give me moral support while I changed the tire myself. I did not quickly get out the jack and the spare, loosen the lug nuts and jack up the car as if I was an expert. Oh wait yes THAT I did do. And I got all the lug nuts off too. What I did not do was with all the nuts off the car discover that I was still too much of a wimp to get the tire off. Isabelle was not yelling in the car that she had to go potty (because I would never let her be in the car while it is jacked up. That isn't safe)while I was trying to problem solve getting a non attached tire off my car. My girlfriend didn't decide I was going to hurt myself and so brought Isabelle in to pee and got help for us. The guy who came out also couldn't get it off which did not make me feel much better about myself. Finally the guy didn't bang my stuck tire with my spare tire which did not make the tire just pop off as if it was loose as could be. I then did not stand there like a helpless girl while the guy finished changing my tire. Nope I am a capable woman and totally would have finished it up myself. My girlfriend did not take this picture of me as proof of how cool I am:

It was not 25 degrees and windy because things never go wrong with my car when the weather is bad.

This weekend I co-hosted a baby shower for a friend. I did not find a fabulous picture of a cake and tell my husband that if I was Martha Stewart I would make it. My husband did not tell me he would love to try to make the cake. I did not continuously tell him why he shouldn't do it or shouldn't be fancy because doing those elaborate things I am unfamiliar with does not stress me out. He did not spend all week researching fondant frosting recipes and techniques so he could create this masterpiece:

John did not create a fondant version of the mother to be sitting on the little bowl just like in the original picture:

I am not the luckiest woman ever to have such a creative husband.

And for those of you who recognize that the cake was in my "I'm Bored" post. I proud to say I really did not have a piece of cake at the shower. However, I "did not" sneak a taste of the frosting while it was being made and it was not delicious. I am not relieved to have the frosting and cake temptations out of my house.